The American military has charged a top commander at its main detention center here with “aiding the enemy,” a rare and serious accusation that carries a maximum sentence of death.
According to a military statement released today, Lt. Col. William H. Steele provided aid to the enemy between October 1, 2005 and October 31, 2006 “by providing an unmonitored cellular phone to detainees” at Camp Cropper, an expansive prison near Baghdad International Airport that held Saddam Hussein before he was executed.
The military statement said the charge was one of nine brought against Col. Steele who — until he was detained last month — oversaw one of several compounds at Camp Cropper as commander of the 451st Military Police Detachment.
He was also accused of illegally storing and marking classified information, disobeying orders relating to his possession of pornography, dereliction of duty regarding government funds and conduct unbecoming of an officer — for fraternizing with the daughter of a detainee since 2005, and for maintaining “an inappropriate relationship” with an interpreter in 2005 and 2006.
Even with these other charges...death for giving someone a cellphone? Surely there's more going on here.